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Latest updates and news from the project

Sex determination

This week we had to take blood from the birds to test for various diseases, which thankfully they are clear of. This also gave us the chance to take a feather sample from each to send away for sex determination. If we do not test for this we will not be able to tell male from female until they start to breed at around 4 years old, the birds are not sexually dimorphic so both sexes look the same. The results came back today and we have 13 females and 9 males! This is an excellent ratio and we are really pleased.

Eberhard's Birthday - Richards Diary part 16

Friday 30th April

We have an early start to get Roland and Damon on the 9.30am ICE train from Berlin Hauptbahnhof train station to Hamburg, where they will catch a plane back to Heathrow and a hire car back to Slimbridge with the seven eggs from the second phase collection. Damon has talked a great deal with the PR people at the train company and the airline to ensure a smooth journey back England, especially since both he and Roland will be carrying batteries attached to the incubators on board the plane.


close up view of the crane feathers

This week has been an exciting time for us as we have seen the first flights from the eldest birds! The plumage has rapidly been developing from fluffy down into sleek waterproof feathers making the juveniles very handsome birds to look at. In this close-up you can see the last of the gingery down amongst newly developed feathers.

Collection continues - Richards Diary part 15

Thursday 29th April

We only need to collect two eggs at the most today but none of us feel complacent given yesterday’s experience. We have to get back to the mill for 2pm to meet the vet again, but the mood remains relaxed.

A lot can change in the space of a few weeks

Well perhaps I shouldn’t have spoken so soon, the reign of Clarence as number one crane was rather short lived to say the least! After about a week and once both cohorts were relatively peaceful, or a peaceful as can be considering the inhabitants are all young cranes with occasional penchants for rather violent behaviour to each other.

Second phase egg collection - Richards Diary part 14

Wednesday 28th April

Today is the start of the second phase of egg collecting and follows the pattern of the first collection. We have 1½ days to collect up to seven more eggs, and need a new permit from Mr Ventland the vet to take them out of Germany. Beate and her team will monitor sites where we have taken eggs to see how many crane pairs re-lay. Cranes normally lay two eggs.


Another character in the group has been our chick colour banded ‘red/black’ who has obtained the nickname 'Pansy'. This bird has found each step in the growing up process a challenge and it took a while to get it self feeding. Eventually it plucked up the courage to explore the grassy enclosure outside where we at once discovered it was afraid of water! So much so that when it came across a puddle it would run away cheeping! It didn’t inspire us with confidence being as it’s a wetland species!